Tuesday, June 28, 2011

my life is still crazy. even though london is long gone.

I know I literally finished up my London blogging like 2 minutes ago, but I still have cool stories to share so alas, this blog will continue. There will be some slight changes, such as my grammar will be better and I won't be explaining the entirety of my days because they'll be pretty similar. I can pretty much guarantee they will all consist of work, reading and scrapbooking (as I've decided that a London scrapbook is my summer project).

So let's start with Wednesday, since I ended with Tuesday. =]
Wednesday was my 20 birthday. It's about freaking time I tell you. I was about at the end of my rope being 19 because everyone always gave me little baby looks when I told them how old I was. But no longer my friends. I have moved up in the world. It was a good day. Birthdays cease to be exciting at some point in your life and that point passed long ago. So although it was nice to be 20, I was back in the real world of Provo and had things to get done, such as work and whatnot. Kayla and Alyssa were still at my grandparents, so they came to Provo with me until I took them to the airport on Thursday. We had a nice dinner at Olive Garden that night with Grandma and then Kelsey (my roommate) threw a little get together at our apartment. It consisted of cookies made by Kelsey and brownies made by Alyssa and in attendance were Kayla, Alyssa, Kelsey, Zach and Ken (boys we know from last year). It was pretty chill and nice to catch up with everyone. At some point two boys from our ward, Johnny and Remington stopped by because they were trying to get to know people in the ward. We invited them in and started our first friendship with people in the ward. It was fabulous.

Lets skip forward to Friday. Kelsey and I had decided that we were going to invite all of the apartments in our ward over for a little game night type thing. We still didn't really know anyone so we just knocked on everyones door and told them the plan. When it came time for the 'party' to start, we quickly found out how social our ward it. Basically a million people showed up. And that's not a very big exaggeration. We literally ended up having to go outside because there were too many people. It was great. We got to meet tons of people and they are all way nice.

Saturday there was a stake service project. It was some hard work but it was great. We rearranged rocks in a rock river and laid sod. Kelsey and I continued to make new friends and solidify other friendships. It was some good times all around. We also discovered that day the importance of "The Stoop." If you hang out outside by the stairs of our condo building, people will flock to you and you will have lots of friends. But seriously. There were a million people out there and we've already made some great friends. I wish I could explain to you all of the hilariousness that goes on and all of the way cool people I've met.

Sunday was amazing. But really. Church was spectacular. I couldn't believe how great the lessons were. Later there was some more Stoop action going on, which was fabulous as well. My favorite part of the night though? When I was told that I look like a Disney Princess. I mean that sounds pretty weird, but he said he meant it as a compliment, so I took it for what it was worth. It's possible I only took it that way because the boy who said it was pretty attractive...

Monday (aka yesterday) I gained a new nickname. Our friend John found out I was born in Utah and has since referred to me as Sister Shelisa. I keep telling him that four years in Utah definitely doesn't count, but he disagrees...

That's all the tidbits of excitement for now. Keep checking back for more craziness.

please don't talk to me

Tuesday was airport day. Not a lot to say about it except that it went well. I got back to Provo safe and sound (which you should know already). I was determined not to sleep on my way back because my flight landed at 9 p.m. which is 4 a.m. in London so I needed to be extra tired when I got home so I would be able to go to bed. I watched four movies on the plane (I Am Number Four, The Dilemma, The Eagle and Just Go With It). All we pretty good. Some better than other but they did their job in keeping me awake. I held back any emotions about leaving, but it is still kind of sad to this day. I do hope to go back, but it just won't be the same. Anyways. I had a four hour connection in Dallas, which was actually a pretty good thing. Except for that I hate Texas. I've only ever been in their airport and that was enough for me. It is way too hot there. So after standing in the giant customs line, I had to collect my bags, go through another customs line (why, I'm still not sure), recheck my bags, go through security and finally I was done. It was pretty insane. I had time to grab some dinner and chat to one of the girls who had gone on the London Theatre program for a few minutes before jumping on my plane to Salt Lake. That plane ride was annoying. I hate talking to people on airplanes. Like for real hate it. I don't care who you are or why you're going wherever you're going or any of the other dumb small talk that comes up. So of course I sit next to the girl who talks nonstop. She even said "Oh, yeah I love to talk." To which I wanted to reply, "Oh well I don't," but I refrained. Finally I got her to stop talking for long enough to sort of fall asleep, which I didn't want to do but it was my only way out of talking. Once I got to the airport my grandma and sister Alyssa didn't even recognize me, so I had to call them and find out where the heck they were. Then it was a drive home and time for bed. Exciting stuff, I assure you.

I'm having trouble ending this post. Once I'm done, I feel like it's all really over and I'm struggling with that.

Until next time London, cheers.

i am the head of the church of england and i'm a mormon

Monday. Our last day for fun and games in London. We started the day walking over to the museum corner where the Victoria and Albert, Natural History and Science museums are located. Mom went to the V&A while Dad and I went to the Natural History. I wish I would have discovered this museum earlier on because it was SO COOL. For real though. It had some way legit exhibits. Dad and I headed over to the Sexual Nature exhibit, which as you may have guessed, is all about sex. But its sex between animals and plants. And it's pretty interesting actually. There are some pretty weird things that attract animals but really when it comes right down to it, they are the same as humans. With the exception that the female tends to be in charge of picking her mate in the animal world,  while the male is the one in charge of dating in the human world. The funniest part though were these super weird video's with Isabella Rossellini called Green Porno. And basically she dresses up as an animal and describes the sexual process of that animal. Except very strangely. I can't even really explain it except to say that there is no way anyone could take them seriously. It was definitely an interesting exhibit. After that we went to the mammal exhibit and learned all about different mammals and saw a bunch of taxidermied animals, some of which I'd never even heard of before. It was a great museum. I was pretty disappointed that the dinosaur exhibit was closed though. They said the dinosaurs were on holiday. Stupid dinosaurs. Mom really enjoyed the V&A as well and saw my favorite exhibits: the jewelry and the theatre exhibits.

After we had finished up there we went over to the British Museum. We split up again and I went and saw the African exhibit, which basically changed my mind about the British Museum. It really wasn't my favorite the first time I went. It's big and crowded and just not as interesting as I had hoped. But once your off the first floor, it's a whole new museum. The African exhibit was stunning. It reminded me of why I've always wanted to go to Africa. They have such a beautiful culture. I also saw an Australian exhibit but it was all of these weird drawings and not actual artifacts so I was a little disappointed. But the South American exhibit was also way cool and the Life and Death exhibit, which I had to walk through at one point, had this crazy role of mesh and all of these different pills were sewn onto it. It was kind of insane to see so many drugs and that we all use them. Mom and Dad weren't huge fans of the British Museum, but really it's hard to enjoy it if you just stick on the first floor. Everything on the first floor looks exactly the same.

We had some time so we ran back to the Christmas store once we had finished up at the British Museum. We got a bunch of ornaments and were back on the road towards the Churchill Museum and Cabinet War Rooms. The Cabinet War Rooms were seriously spectacular. They had it looking the same way it did when Churchill used it because once the war was over, they just left everything to sit in the dust. It's another one of those things that is hard to explain how cool it was. I would have to say it was one of my favorite things while in London. The Churchill Museum wasn't quite as cool. It was really disorganized so we didn't stay long. But they did have some of Churchill's clothes in the Museum. He was one big dude. But a really amazing big dude.

After Churchill, we headed to Trafalgar Square. We stopped at a candy store, one of the same candy stores that my friends and I saw way back in the day and tried out some of their jar candy. Apple Bon Bons are my new fav for sure. After the candy store, we got some dinner at the Spaghetti House, which was one of the better Italian places we went to while in Europe. Then it was time for gelato, because how can you go to Trafalgar Square without going to Gino's for gelato. It was delicious as always, except that the sucky lady was there and she always jips us on the scoop size. And it was just really sad to be going there for the last time...

Because my parents hadn't seen Buckingham yet and we had time to kill, we walked down The Mall to Buckingham. It had started pouring buckets of rain at that point, but we still trudged along. All of the sudden, two cop cars pass us and we see two more farther down the road. We assume someone semi important must be coming so I get my camera out. Good thing I did because all of the sudden the stinking Queen is driving past! I couldnt' believe it. She didn't even have that much security with her and her car windows were completely see through. It was crazy. How perfect to end my journey the same way I started it. I saw the Queen at the wedding and the again just driving around. After that bit of excitement, we took some snappy pictures of the Palace and got the crap out of there because it was raining like crazy. Once back at the hotel it was time to pack up and get ready to leave the next morning...

P.S. My title is a quote from this hilarious video. You need to watch it.

naked old men

Saturday (over a week ago, not this past one. I know, I really need to get caught up.) we started the day a little later because we were so tired. Our first stop was Portobello Road, which you should already know that I love. Actually, I basically just love all of the markets. I wish there was stuff like that out here. I'm pretty sure my parents liked it and it was cool to walk around and check out what everyone was selling. We had some lunch there made up of fruit and this freaking awesome chicken sandwich dealo. It was the bomb. For real. Too bad you'll never get to try it. We didn't  buy anything, just looked around, ate and then peaced out.

After Portobello, we headed to Hampton Court. We had to do some finagling with the tube and the train, but finally we got there. We split up again because I wanted to finish up what I hadn't seen the last time. I went into the Georgian Apartments and the kitchen area and then I still had some time to kill before meeting up with my parents so I went back to King Henry's apartments again. The Georgian part of the palace was cool, but not as cool as everyone told me it was. Maybe they just couldn't compete with all the other palaces I'd seen at that point, but it definitely wasn't my top favorite part of Hampton Court. The kitchen area was pretty sweet. And giant. It's no wonder Henry was such a fatty, I'm pretty sure it would be hard not to be a fatty with the kitchen he had. It was an entire wing of the palace. Craziness. The Royal Philharmonic Orchestra was practicing for a performance while we were there too and that was way cool. They are very talented (though that's probably pretty obvious by the title of their performing group). My parents, or at least my mom, was disappointed in Hampton Court. She was expecting it to be a lot cooler, which was unfortunate. I wish I could have taken them to Windsor Palace. I'm fairly positive they would have loved it.

After we got back from Hampton Court, we went and grabbed waffles at Waffle Palace, which is down the street from the Centre. It was delicious. Then we did a little souvenir shopping and walked home through Kensington Gardens. We also unsuccessfully tried to do laundry but it was closed so we just hung out at the hotel

On Sunday we went to church at the singles ward close by. It was the earliest church we could go to, so who cares if everyone's single except my parents. But apparently a lot of tourists were thinking the same thing because there were at least 5 other families there. It was good ward, not as exciting as some of the other churches we've been too. Mainly because everyone, shockingly enough, was normal. After church, we changed and all that good stuff and went to Tower of London. It was already latish afternoon at this point so first we stopped and had lunch at Wagamama's, this super popular Japanese place. I had been wanted to go there for quite some time and I thoroughly enjoyed it.

Tower of London was just as great the second time. We went on a guided tour with one of the yeoman (aka a beefeater) and it really added to the stuff we saw. I knew a lot of history about the Tower before but there is so much to know so it was interesting to hear about the things I didn't know anything about. The guide was way funny and kept making jokes about Americans (but in a humorous way, not an offensive way). He flat out told us that the things he would be telling us were stories and not necessarily history, which made me like him infinitely more than Tony the liar. Plus, most of his stuff sounded legit. He showed us where Jane Grey stayed before she was executed and the apartments that were built for Anne Boleyn when she married Henry VIII. The coolest part you ask? The guide took us into the chapel, which is where all of the executed people are buried so I got to see Lady Jane's and Anne Boleyn's grave. SO COOL!

After our little tour, my parents and I split up again and they went and saw the crown jewels, while I went to the prisoners tower and the Royal Fusiliers museum. The tower was freaking awesome. It has all of these carving of people who were held there and it's all labeled so you know who wrote what. There are two different places where JANE was scratching into the stone, but since Jane wasn't actually held there, they think it must have been loyal followers that scratched it into the stone. The museum was interesting. It was all about war. But I'm still not exactly sure what the Royal Fusiliers do or who they are. Some sort of military is all I got out of it.

After Tower of London, we walked across Tower Bridge and got some of the fabulous roasted peanuts they sell on many of the bridges. We walked to this Christmas store my mom wanted to go to but it was closed on Sunday's so no Christmas store for us that day. Then we walked to the Globe because we had tickets to see Dr. Faustus, which is written by Christopher Marlow, one of Shakespeare's contemporaries. I had read the play so I was really interested to see how it would be acted out. It was really good but it wasn't my favorite (nor was it my favorite when I read it). The actors were really good, I just struggle with the plot sometimes. I don't find it quite as entertaining as some of the Shakespeare plays I saw at the Globe. We had great standing spots though, right up against the stage. There was some awesome nudity as well. The old guy, who happened to be standing right in front of me at the time, pulled his pants down and I got a great view of old man butt. Pretty disgusting. I also had food spit out on me by another actor. Also disgusting.

Friday, June 24, 2011

tony the liar

Friday, Mom signed us up for a tour that went to Salisbury, Stonehenge and Bath. Those of you who are avid readers of this here blog would know that I've already been to Stonehenge and Bath, but I was ok going back. I just wasn't a huge fan of an entire day where I would be dragged around by a tour guide. It's hard to go from a live-in tourist to a hard-core tourist, if that makes any sense to you at all. So anyways. We get on the bus and luckily, I score a seat with no one sitting by my which equals I don't have to talk to random strangers for the hours we're in the bus. Great news. I'll spare you the details of the bus ride because really it isn't all that exciting. But once we get to Salisbury, we go check out this cathedral that is apparently really cool and famous. I think probably it's only cool and famous because one of the copies of the Magna Carta is there (which by the way, means that I have officially seen all four remaining copies of the Magna Carta). Really, it's just another cathedral. And we didn't even get to see that much of it because Tony, the tour guide, was basically running through it and showed us nothing. Which is why my mom and I left the tour group to explore on our own for a minute. Also, this was the point in time where I realized that half the things Tony was spilling out of his mouth was a bunch of b.s. No lie. We even kept a list of potential lies to look them up later and a good majority of them were in fact lies. This was basically the end of my tolerance for Tony and we hadn't even really started the day yet. My dad found his humorous though, so I'm glad someone enjoyed all of his lies. We also grabbed lunch in Salisbury. Tony only gave us 35 minutes for lunch, which isn't very long in a town with no fast food. We ended up at a pub and grabbed us some panini's before literally running back to the bus.

After Salisbury, we drove to Stonehenge, which wasn't to far away. I believe it was along this drive where Tony insisted on pointing out ever single thatched roof we passed and telling us to get our cameras out to take a picture. Sorry Tony the Liar but one thatched roof is enough thatched roofs for a lifetime. I don't need you to point out every single one. Once we got to Stonehenge, it was about as exciting as it was the first time. I got the audio guide this time around, so that did improve things a bit. And we completely ditched Tony all together, which I don't think he necessarily appreciated but I didn't care what he had to make up about this site. Now my parents can say they've been there, so that's cool. Once it was time to get back to the bus, there were two people who were late. Tony was a big stickler about being on time and he was freaking out because they were like 5 minutes late. I mean granted, it was pretty annoying but I don't think we need to die over it or anything. So he decided to pull the bus up to the entrance, thinking that the late people will see it and run over. Bad idea mr. There were like a million buses there and none of us really knew what our bus looked like, we just knew Tony would be standing by it. So Tony ended up having to get out of the bus and go find them and it was all one crazy fiasco.

Next stop was Bath. Luckily, Tony left us alone and we could do our own tour here. Too bad we had like an hour and a half which is basically no time at all. So we sped through the actual Roman baths and got some pictures and then walked around the town for a couple of minutes and got back on the bus. It wasn't much different that the first time I went to Bath except it was spend up times 5. I think both of my parents were kind of disappointed by the little amount of time we were able to spend there. And to make matters worse, part of the reason we left so early was because Tony wanted to take us home via the scenic route. Guess what buddy? We didn't pay to see some trees and more thatched roofs. How annoying. And then we got stuck in traffic on the way back as well so it was quite a long ride home. It wasn't the worse day ever though. I just think it would have been more enjoyable if we had done it on our own rather than with Tony the Liar and all the other crazy tourists on the bus.

After we got back to London, I needed to go back to the Centre to get my luggage I'd left there. Dad and I decided to walk because the tube was being annoying and because we wouldn't have to pay to walk. It was a nice little walk and I now had clothes to wear so it was great.

Thursday, June 23, 2011

paris: city of PDA, sugar, and bread

Wednesday morning we started the day with a trip to the Louvre (which my dad likes to pronouns as loov-er). We were hoping to catch an English tour of all the main things because the Louvre is giant so we wouldn't ever find everything on our own and we don't speak French so a French tour wouldn't work out so great. Anyways, by the time we got there the tour at 11 had already been sold out so we got tickets for the tour at 2. Then we walked over to the Concierge, which used to be a royal palace and prison. It was a pretty cool building. Not very big, but the architecture was, as always, beautiful. After looking around there, we walked back to the Louvre, grabbed some lunch in their cafe (not super delicious by the way) and then started our way on the tour. The tour was definitely worth it. The guide knew her stuff. There were some annoying people along with us and they asked seriously ridiculous questions. They had to ask the significance of everything we saw. Including the stuff the guide wasn't actually showing us. Needless to say, there was some mocking going on by my parents and I. The Mona Lisa was so small!! I was pretty surprised. The statue things with the wings that's really giant (I'm having trouble remembering it's name at the moment) was really cool as well. My favorite was a painting of a shipwreck. It's giant and it's amazing. I love it. Except I also don't remember it's name...

After the Louvre, we went to the Rodin Museum. Rodin was a sculpture and he sculpted The Thinker and The Kiss. I really like his work so it was cool to be bale to see his original sculptures. Across the street from the Rodin Museum was this hospital that is ginormous and has really pretty architectural features. We took some pictures but didn't go inside. Instead we sat on the stairs outside and Dad and I ended up falling asleep for like 30 minutes. And of course I fell asleep with my mouth open and there were picture taken..how embarrassing.

After our nap, we walked to the Eiffel Tower. It really is an amazing monument. It's big and kind of crazy that it sort of accidental became such a famous monument. The Eiffel Tower is what people thing of when they thing of Paris and it wasn't even suppose to stay. It was built for a celebration or something and then it was going to be taken down once it was over. So anyways, as we were about to get in line to go up, I saw Scott, one of the guys in my study abroad group, so that was pretty cool. He wasn't going up the tower yet, so my parents and I got in line. We decided we couldn't do the very top. All of us have a little issue with heights (as your well aware from previous stories I've shared about myself) so we didn't think going to the very top would be a good idea. We went to the second level and it wasn't too bad to go up there. The view was cool and we got some really sweet pictures.

After we finished up at the Eiffel Tower we decided to walk to the Arc de Triomphe. Bad idea folks. The Arc is not really that close to the Eiffel Tower. It was quite the walk. We did stop for some dinner on the way though. We went to this Italian place that was pretty cool. The best part though was this Italian guy sitting at the table next to us. He kept talking to us and at the end of the meal, he offered to let us stay at his house if we ever made it to Rome. He gave my dad his contact info. It was pretty cool but also pretty strange. I don't think people in America would be quite as generous. Anyways, we finally got to the Arc and walked up to the top. The view was great and we could see the Eiffel Tower all lit up. The bad news you ask. All three of our camera's were dead. So our pictures were basically none existent. This guy offered to take a picture of us up there and email it to us. We'll see if we ever get that e-mail...

Thursday we started out our day at Saint Chapelle. I was fairly certain my parents didn’t actually care if they saw this but I had heard it was really cool so I wanted to go in, even if just for a minute. But I’m pretty sure we all loved it. It is the most amazing chapel I’ve ever seen. And that’s saying a lot because we all know how many churches I’ve been to since being in England. The whole interior was elaborately painted in these rich colors. It was amazing. I’ve never seen another chapel like it. I can’t even describe how beautiful it was but really, it was. It was kind of strange at first though because we had to go through all this security and get our bags screened and stuff and we were like man, they take security here pretty seriously if this is just for a stinking chapel. But then it ended up being that the chapel is in the same courtyard dealy that the courthouse is in, so we had to be security checked for that purpose.

After that cool little adventure, we headed down the street to Notre Dame. We got in line to climb up the tower and ended up waiting about 45 minutes. But that’s ok, because just like the Arc de Triomphe and the Eiffel Tower promised, it was going to have THE best view of the city. (Don’t ask me how they all have the best view. We still haven’t figured that one out). So we climb up all million stairs to the first real level (cuz there’s a mini level gift shop in between) and check out the city. They only let so many people up at a time so it wasn’t too crowded. And it really was a cool view, especially since we were able to see all the gargoyles right up close. I wasn’t quite as freaked out up there as I was St. Paul’s, way back in the day, because first of all there were no see through steps and second of all, there were walls I could slide along to make me feel like I wasn’t going to fall off and die. It was cool from the very top balcony as well, though not a ton different than the first stop. We assumed that once we climbed back down all the stairs we would be dumped back into the actual chapel part of Notre Dame. However, we were wrong and instead we got dumped outside facing another line. Luckily for us, or maybe just because we’re rude American tourists, this lady had a bunch of school kids standing in what looking like the almost front of the line, but right as we got down the stairs, everyone realized that they weren’t in line so there was a sort of mini havoc and we just kind of slipped in the building while everyone was trying to find the real line. It wasn’t really my favorite chapel though. It was super dark and just not really all that pretty. We didn’t spend that much time inside that part but that was ok with me. Really I just thought it was cool to be where good old Quasimodo once lived…

Once we finished there, we headed back to the Pantheon, now that we had real tickets that would get us in. I’m definitely glad we went back there because it was one of the more interesting buildings I thought. The architecture was amazing and there were some really cool people buried in the crypt, such as Victor Hugo and Mr. Braille. But what I thought was super interesting was how modern the sculptures were. They were all depicting stuff from the French Revolution, which was a while ago, but not at all very long when you compare it to a lot of the statues I feel like I’ve seen in other buildings, which come from ancient Greek people and stuff. Funny story though. When we first got there, we all needed to use the toilet so that was our first stop. The ladies line was a lot longer than the men’s line, as usual, and both doors were propped open. Girls kept walking into the guys because no one was using it, which I think is fine. Until a guy does decided to use it, then I think the door should be shut and girls should stop walking in because urinals aren’t the most private things ever. But no. The door was left propped open and girls kept using the stalls in the men’s bathroom while boys were using the urinals. And while standing in the girl’s line, we had a pretty direct view of the urinals because of the whole propped open door situation. Nothing was seen. At least not by me. But the awkward tension was almost unbearable…

Because of the whole camera situation on Wednesday, I made us all go back to the Arc to get a picture. We just hopped of the metro real fast, took a picture across the street and then hopped back onto the metro and headed to this cool church called Sainte Pierre de Montmartre. We had no prior intentions of going here, but we could see the building from ever ‘best view of the city’ we saw and so we were curious. It was a really cool building from the outside and the inside was pretty too. We weren’t supposed to take pictures, but my dad and I may have taken some illegal ones anyways. Woops. It was on top of a hill so the view was great as well. There was a church service going on at the same time so we got to listen to the choir while we walked around. When we got outside, there was this super buff guy doing all these sweet tricks with a soccer ball and Dad had my camera during that time, so I know have videos of super buff soccer ball trick man. Just a random tidbit of the adventure I thought I share with you.

On our way from the church, Dad accidentally smacked a Christmas ornament Mom had bought against a pole. It was one of those glass globe ornaments, so of course it broke. We figured we would have just enough time to get back to the gift shop and get her a new one, which we did. And then it was back to the hotel to grab our luggage and head to the train station. Unfortunately, once we got to the train station and couldn’t find our train, we realized that we had been mistaken on what time our train left and we had already missed our train. We ran to the helper people place to see if we could catch the next train in 30 minutes and encountered a very rude lady who informed us that we would have to pay full price to get onto the train and they would be 250 euros each. Then she want and talked to her boss and we were able to get on the train with no extra charge. But thanks for being rude anyways lady.

Your probably wondering about the title of this post at this point. While in Paris, basically all we ever ate was bread and sugar. We had so many eclairs, because they were absolutely amazing. And we found these fabulous donut like things but time 5 on the grease. It was not a healthy trip but it sure was tasty. We also encountered more people making out in public than I have ever seen in my whole life. It was disgusting...

Saturday, June 18, 2011

boring old monday and terrific tuesday

Alright so to finally finish off Monday's adventures. We had a picnic in Kensington Gardens for dinner with the entire group, which was fabulous. It was a great way to end the program and for those of us leaving the next day, to say our goodbyes. Plus, you can never go wrong with a peanut butter and jelly sandwich. After dinner we went to the Westminster Abbey area to have a little walk from there to Trafalgar Square. Hannah, Kaylee, Amy, Tara, and Kelly (aka Mrs. Miller) came along for the ride. It was fun to see all the sites one last time and get some last minute pictures. One of our pictures was us on the big lion statues in the middle of Trafalgar Square. We've always seen people up on them so we assumed it wouldn't be that difficult to accomplish but we were very wrong. It was extremely difficult to get up on the back on the lion because it was so big and we looked like ridiculous fools. Foolish enough that some random group of guys took a picture of us attempting to get up while laughing at us. Good times. Then it was gelato and time to get home. I was trying to speed things up because I didn't have a lot of time but things weren't very speedy at all. We ended up getting back to the centre around 10:15 and then I flew around getting some last minute things done and saying my goodbyes so I could get to my parents hotel. I didn't end up getting there until 11:30 and then 4 hours later...

...I was up and getting ready for Paris. Our (as in my mom, my dad and I) train left at 5:30 so it was an early start. I slept through the train ride, so that helped some with my exhaustion but not really. Once we got there, we dropped our stuff off at the hotel, which was really nice. I had my own room because they don't have rooms with two beds. We weren't really sure where to start but we ended up at Notre Dame and found a double decker bus tour thing so we hopped on that and it took us around the city. That was cool because we got to see where things were in relation to other things and we got to see all the big sites at once and then we could decide from there which ones we wanted to go back to. So we went all the way around and once we were back at Notre Dame, we found this little street thing with all these food shops and we ended up at a bakery place. I got a ham and cheese sandwich on a baguette with butter. It was AMAZING!! For real. The best ham and cheese sandwich I've ever had. Mom had a panini with pesto on it, which is great. And Dad has a three cheese panini. He ate about half of it before he couldn't take it anymore and declared it to be disgusting. He made us try it and it had some weirdo kind of cheese on it. He describes it as butt cheese. And that's pretty much what it tastes like. It was super gross but way a way funny situation because he ate so much of it before he just couldn't take another bite. After our sandwiches, we got a chocolate eclair and some small macaroons. Everyone raved about the macaroons in Paris but they were just ok. I love my chocolate eclair though!

After lunch we thought it would be a good idea to go to the Pantheon. I don't remember exactly what happened but we ended up walking there. Probably because we thought it wasn't that far. Except for it kind of was. And when we got there we realized we didn't have our Museum Passes, just our Paris Passes, which all came together in a package but the Paris Pass doesn't really do anything for you. So we decided to head back to the hotel and make sure we actually had Museum Passes in our package before buying them or paying to get into anything. On our way back to the hotel, I was having a bit of a shoe problem. The really cute flats I had bought in London for 5 pounds were wearing out. I've worn them a ton since I bought them and the sole had started to crack. I didn't think it was that bad but it kept getting worse and worse as the day continued. When we were near the hotel, Mom and I stopped at a shoe store to get me a new pair (which are also super cute and more comfortable than my London ones) and it was just in the nick of time because as we walked into the hotel the entire front part of the sole on one shoe came off. Pretty great, let me tell you.

We discovered we did have Museum Passes but they were only for two days and we were going to be in Paris for three. We decided to save them for the last two days since a lot of the first day was already gone.On one of our handy dandy maps we found a Hard Rock Cafe and we went there for dinner, which was cool because we just happened to be there on the day of their anniversary so all of the employees were dressed up as different artists. After dinner we went to the Place de la Concorde because its free and we just wanted pictures. It's basically a big square with an obelisk statue and two fountains and then at either end of the square are these two cool looking buildings that I'm pretty sure are important but I have no idea why. The obelisk statue though has a story I can tell you about. It has the story of Ramses II on it in hieroglyphs and it once was at the entrance of the Luxor Temple but it was then moved to replace a guillotine that was there during the Revolution. After we'd finished looking around, we walked home through a park that was basically in between the Concorde and our hotel and then it was off to bed.

I know I'm really far behind but I'm also really busy with the parents and really tired so this will have to suffice for now...

Monday, June 13, 2011

another long one. don't act surprised

Since its been a while, this is going to be a pretty long post. I figured I would post similarly to when I've been gone on trips since I have so many days to catch you up on. The bold-faced type would be the titles of each day (just in case you couldn't figure that one out for yourself).

branching out. surprising, i know

Friday morning we had a group trip to Tower of London. We didn't actually go there as a big giant group because they had passed out our tickets at the Centre and we were all ready to leave at various points that morning. Tara, Kaylee, Hannah and I left at the same time and it wasn't anything hugely spectacular once we got there simply because its in a pretty central part of the city, so we had walked passed it various times. But we were excited to go inside because it has such a significant history. Tower of London is where Lady Jane Grey and Anne Boleyn were executed, among various others. It was pretty cool. The first part we went to was the Crown Jewels. Can you say stinking amazing?? They were spectacular and one the scepter thingy if the First Star of Africa, which is the worlds largest clear cut diamond and its HUGE. Like I don't think I would be able to completely close my hand around it because it's too big. They have all the important Crown Jewels in cases and the little electronic move thingy that they have at some airports to make you walk faster. Or so you don't have to walk at all, you can just stand while the floor carries you along. Anyways, so Kaylee and I went back through the movable walkway dealy three times because it was so amazing. You just don't get to see everything properly if you only go through once. After the Crown Jewels we walked around the grounds, found where the torture rooms were, went through a little history museum type deal that told you about the royals and the tower and found the execution spot. We were (wrongly) told by some of the other people in our group that you couldn't get into the building where Anne Boleyn and Jane Grey are buried, but Amy informed us we most definitely could and Tara and I weren't exactly happy about this news. Though I will get to go back with my parents so I have to make sure I see it then.

Right around the time we were getting ready to leave and find some lunch, it started down pouring so we ran into the gift shop, which is outside of the Tower gates. There was a Subway across the street and we decided that although that wasn't really all that cool because we can get Subway in America, it required very little walking in the rain so we ran across the street and grabbed that. I decided to get something with a little substance rather than my regular old plain ham and cheese and it was quite the success. Basically it was the best Subway I'd ever had. Who knew some vegetables and a variety of meat could make a sandwich so delicious. I've definitely learned to eat things here I wouldn't have ever eaten at home.

After lunch we went to the Imperial War Museum. It was a really interesting museum. They have an entire exhibit on the Holocaust and it was really interesting to see that event from a British perspective. I felt like they were much more respectful and less gruesome than how I learned about it in high school. I really liked it but it wasn't exactly the most uplifting experience. It's pretty sad. After than we went and looked at the World War I and World War II exhibits. There was a Trench War Experience in the World War I exhibit and you get to walk through a recreated trench and it smells like grossness and there are soldiers all around and its dark and there's people 'shooting' at you. It was pretty crazy and kind of scary. Definitely not something I would have wanted to experience for real. They had a similar experience in the World War II exhibit that was the Blitz. They stick you in a bomb shelter while a 'bomb' goes off and then you walk through the ruined streets. It was insane. I can't even imagine what it must have been like to have to live through all of that.

After the museum it was time to meet up with the parents. I walked to their hotel room because it is only about a 20 minute walk from the Centre. It was so great to see them! We went to dinner at this great Indian restaurant and then they came to the Centre and met my friends and my professors. It's so nice having them here!

a day spent on the corner

Saturday morning we went to the Houses of Parliament on a tour. It was pretty cool to see and it kind of felt like I was seeing the White House, even though I've never actually been to the White House, so I wouldn't actually know how that feels. But anyways. So we go through security and they tell us all their crazy rules (like no sitting on the super comfy looking seats that are located everywhere throughout the tour) and give us a badge with our face on it so all the security people know we're legit. The tour guide man was pretty knowledgeable and definitely gave us a good tour. It was interesting because he was talking about Henry VIII, who was one bad dude, but he totally portrayed him in this great light and talked about how brave he was and all this stuff. Even though he broke up the church and killed his wives. I mean I love Henry VIII. He's fascinating. But I've never heard an Englander talk about him in a positive way. I also thought it was interesting because parliament is made up of the House of Commons whose color is green and the House of Lords whose color is red and each one kind of has a different half of the building. So when you're on the House of Commons side all the upholstery and whatnot is green and then as soon as you cross over to the House of Lords side it all switches to red. So yeah, cool tour for sure. Also, I'm not going to lie. I was really tired during this tour, so there were some points where I was falling asleep standing there listening to the guy. I felt bad because he was interesting, but I just struggled to stay away.

After Parliament, I had plans to meet my parents as Westminster. I gave them specific directions as where to meet me, but they forgot the directions and my directions really weren't amazing if you'd never been there before. So I literally stand on the corner for 45 minutes before they finally found me. I was basically a picture prostitute the whole time too. I'm not even sure how many people asked me to take their picture while I was standing there but it was a lot. We went into Westminster and toured that. It was just as great the second time around. It really is a beautiful building and I love seeing all the well known people who are buried there. And this time I found Charles Darwin's grave. Yay! After Westminster we walked around and took pictures of Parliament and the London Eye and whatnot.

After Westminster we were having problems deciding what we were going to do and how to get anywhere because the tubes are always ridiculous on the weekends and we needed a map. So we tried to get Internet and ended up walking a zillion blocks away to get internet at a McDonald's. We decided that lunch would be a great idea so we went over to the Tower of London area because we had plans for later that night in the area. My parents were big fans of the lunch food, but England doesn't really have the most spectacular food to begin with.

After lunch we wandered around until our Jack the Ripper tour started. I wasn't really sure what to expect from this tour. It was a walking tour and tour guide lady was nice and she gave some really interesting facts. But that was about the extent of it. It was full of interesting facts but there wasn't any humor or anything scary. Just a walk from building to building telling us about Jack. So it was enlightening and I learned more about Jack the Ripper than I ever knew before, but it wasn't the most exciting thing ever. It was through a super slummy area of London though. That was sort of interesting to walk through because I hadn't been in the slums of London yet.

After the tour, we came back to the Centre, picked up my friends and one of my professors and his wife and got gelato at our favorite gelato place. It was great as usual and I'm pretty sure my parents enjoyed it. Then it was on to the hotel, where I stayed with them for the night.

God be with you till we meet again
Before we had gone to bed on Saturday, I had figured out how to get to church with the new line closures and found a way that only too us about an hour instead of almost two. Where the heck has that way been the whole time I've been here?!? Craziness. I enjoyed church, as usual. My parents though every was very nice (because they are) and they picked out the crazies (cuz every ward has them. even if they are nice crazies) and they were able to add that to their list of non-home wards they've been too. The closing hymn at sacrament was God Be With You Till We Meet Again, so basically it was really sad. And then leaving at the end was super sad. I've loved every minute with the girls I was able to spend time with at church and I'm going to miss them all so much!!

After church we went back to their hotel to change and what not and then got some food. We were going to go to the Churchill War Rooms, but it was getting late and I didn't think we would have enough time so I ditched them (very sadly and apologetically) to go back to the Centre and finish up my homework and study for my finals. My homework sucked big time but I did finish it.

We also had a fireside last night and everyone told one of their favorite moments of the trip and then we watched a sideshow of pictures. It was really fun, even though there were some teary moments. The professors gave us a little farewell talking to and the boys passed out little notes they had written to all of the girls. Then we sang God Be With You Till We Meet Again and I cried through it...

see ya centre

This morning I got my finals over with. History sucked and I don't even want to know what grade I got on it. But literature was fabulous. It's nice but also weird to not have any homework to do. I actually have a little bit of free time instead of being insanely busy.

After class and some lunch, I packed up everything. It all fit in the suitcases I brought, which is pretty miraculous. And now I'm sitting here blogging because all of my friends are finishing up their art final and my parents are off exploring. Maybe there will be more exciting things to share with you about today later on.

Thursday, June 9, 2011

middlesex panthers!!!!!!

Today was the last day of this semesters classes...now I just have two more papers to go and two finals and I'm home free until Fall semester. Woo! It's kind of sad though because that also means my time here is dwindling.

After class I spent some more time on the homework. My history papers have been proving to be a tad more difficult and time consuming than I was originally planning and my hopes of having them done before my parents got here haven't been fulfilled. Oh well, what can you do.

The day didn't get very exciting until 5:30 as we were on our way to a cricket match. Now, I'm not going to lie. A cricket match sounded like the most boring thing ever. I did look up the rules of the game beforehand though, so at least I was prepared for this. I was not, however, prepared for the fact that apparently cricket is a male dominated spectator sport. Us four girls, Hannah, Amy, Tara and I looked like crazies walking amongst all these men, many of them in suits as I'm sure they just got off work. Though this was a whole group event, we were on our own to get there and find seats and what not. And another weird thing is that none of the seats are assigned, it's just first come, first served. We got pretty decent seats I thought. Plus because there were so many males, there were lots of people to look at. I mean...uhh...We did "by chance" sit near some of these said males. It was a good thing we did too because they were way nice and kept answering questions for us during the game. I'm happy to say that by the time we left, I knew how the game was played for the most part and I had picked a team to root for. They are called the Middlesex Panthers. They wear bright pink uniforms and they have a chant that goes something like this "Middle! Middle! Middle! Sex! Sex! Sex! Middlesex!" Basically it's the most hilarious chant. So although I went into it with a hesitant attitude, it was pretty fun, even though my team lost. Though it's definitely not a sport I would spend hours and hours watching. It's similar to baseball in that a lot of the time, players are kind of just standing around. Plus, we went to one of the short games. Some of the really big games go for 3 to 5 DAYS. That's ridiculous.

After the game, we went on our last walk for our London Walks class. It took us to the other side of the Thames and we got to walk past the London Eye (which is HUGE when your right up by it) so yeah it was a cool little walk. And then we came back to our neighborhood and ran down the street to this gelato place that other students had recommended and I will admit, it was pretty delicious.

My parents are going to be here tomorrow!!! Yay!!

Wednesday, June 8, 2011

sexy apron lady

First thing yesterday morning, I got up and ran a few errands. They may sound like ridiculous errands to you, but whatever. I went over to the National Gallery and the National Portrait Gallery, which are next door to each other, and got a couple postcards I should have gotten when I was there the first time. There is this beautiful Monet painting at the National Gallery that I wanted a postcard of and there there is this smoking hot picture of William and Henry that I couldn't live without. After I had grabbed my postcards, I walked to the Cabinet War Rooms, to see about tickets. I'm not actually going until my parents get here, but I had nothing else to do and it's a nice little walk because it takes you past the Horse Guard place and Whitehall and stuff. Plus now I know where the Cabinet War Rooms are so we don't get lost when my parents are here.

After errands it was time for tea at Kensington Palace. I didn't think about this until we were walking over there as a big group, but I was basically fulfilling every little girls dream at that moment. Tea at a palace, just like a princess. Crazy stuff. Here's the thing though. I don't drink tea. I've never had tea. Any kind of tea. So we picked some herbal tea because apparently that's ok to drink. But it is also the most disgusting thing I have ever had to drink. I drank about 2 spoonfuls before setting it aside and deciding that I didn't care very much if I didn't fulfil my childhood dreams of a princess tea in a castle. It just wasn't worth the suffering. Later I discovered that I had chosen the worst flavor, but the others weren't all that delicious either. They also brought out little cucumber sandwiches (which were also not super yummy) and a fruit scone (which was yummy) and a little chocolate cake and orange/lemon tart (which were yummy as well). Overall it was a cool experience and I definitely feel like it's something I had to do while I was here in England, but I never care to experience another tea in my life.

After tea, Hannah, Amy and I ran to the Science Museum again to finish up some homework. We ran into some missionaries on the way there and one of them offered to give us a tour of the chapel that is right by the museum. I kindly informed him that we were already member, to which he replied that he could tell we were. Well buddy, if you could tell, why'd you ask in the first place. He then proceeded to ask us where we were fun and all that jazz. Then we found out he was basically almost done with his mission and would be a freshman at BYU in the fall. Someone seems to be getting a little desperate for the ladies... After the museum it was back to the Centre for more homework time and dinner duty. Fun stuff I know.

The group also had plans to see The Mousetrap after dinner. This is London's longest running play and it's a murder mystery so I was pretty excited about it. We had great seats and I enjoyed it, though I was kind of tried so I kept yawning and when I yawn my eyes water so I was basically crying throughout the whole thing which was pretty embarrassing. The best part though was during 'half-time' as my friends and I call intermission. I was sitting next to Kaylee and she had fallen asleep so I was explaining to her what was going on when Brother and Sister Crowe, two of our professors here, who were sitting on the other side of me, leaned over and asked me to recap for them too because they had fallen asleep. hahahaha Funniest thing ever. Good thing one of us was enjoying it so everyone else could find out what happened after they woke up from their nap.

Today we got up bright and early and went to the London temple. It was a great experience. I really do love the temple and I was excited to go because I hadn't gone since I left Provo. It was a little strange because I don't think they were use to getting such big groups in so the process was a little weird but its always great no matter how you go about getting it done. Baptisms were a little rough because the guy baptising at the time was kind of speeding and there wasn't a lot of time to breathe in between each one. You should be glad I'm still here to tell the tale.

After baptisms we had grand plans to go the Imperial War Museum but of course our time plans never actually work out and we didn't have time to go before dinner. So instead it was more homework time. At least I should be able to get all of my homework done before my parents get here...After dinner though, Tara introduced us to this pub that has the best chocolate cake ever so it ended up being a fab end to the night.

Also, you may be wondering about the title of this post. At dinner duty today, I was washing dishes and I was wearing an apron so I didn't get water all over me. I had multiple people come up to me and tell me how hot I looked in an apron. I wasn't aware 'hot' and 'apron' could even go together in the same sentence but I guess you learn something new every day. So in the future I would like to be referred to as the sexy apron lady. Ok, maybe not. But I do appreciate the compliments fellow study abroaders. =]

Monday, June 6, 2011

artifacts, 5 a.m. phone calls, and lots of dead people.

After church yesterday (which was another adventure attempting to figure out how to get there because once again random tube lines are closed), I headed to the British Museum. I just went by myself because my friends and I all get home from church at different times. It was a pretty overwhelming place. There were about 50 gillion people there and its GIMONGOUS! But freaking awesome as well. It took me some time before I found a map because I didn't go through the main entrance. Once I found the central area, which is way cool looking, I grabbed a map and headed on my way. I didn't really closely examine everything because it's so big but I skimmed through most of the Greece exhibit. Some of my favorite things were the Parthenon room, which had big giant pieces of the Parthenon in this room that was supposed to look like a replica of the inside of the Parthenon. Ok I may have made up that last bit. Maybe it's just supposed to look like Greek architecture, but in my mind, it was the inside of the Parthenon. They also had this thing called the Nereid Monument which was this way sweet Greek monument. I saw the Rosetta Stone on my way out as well, which is bigger than I thought it was but pretty fascinating to look at. Also I learned where the word mausoleum came from. I know, your jealous, so I guess I'll share my knowledge with you. This guy named Mausolus had this tomb. And it was a pretty cool tomb because it was like really big and really decorative and so it was one of the original Seven Wonders of the World. So Mausolus eventually became mausoleum and the parts of the Tomb of Mausolus now lie in the British Museum. Cool factoid huh?

So yeah then it was dinner and lots of reading because it was raining and there's not a whole lot we're able to do on Sundays anyways.

Today after class, we went and took the Westminster Abbey tour. On our way to the tube, I stopped at the bank whose cash machine had stolen my card on Saturday. I stood in line for about a zillion hours. Or maybe like 30 minutes. And when I got to the desk, they were just like "Oh when the technician came, he didn't find any card, so someone must have stolen it." WHAT THE FREAK?!? I wasn't even sure how to respond to this. I was like "Umm are you sure?" and she was just like "Yep, I had him check three times." So then I walked away dumbfounded. Tara, Amy and Hannah were waiting for me so when I told them what happened, Tara was like "Oh heck no!" and marches over and glares down this other man who had talked to us on Saturday. Eventually he acknowledges her and gets someone else to help us out. That dude basically told me the same thing. He said that people will put little things in the machine to jam the card and then they come and steal it. I wanted to yell at him "Well maybe if you retards hadn't waiting until this morning to have the technician come it, they wouldn't have been able to come back and get my card" but I refrained. So instead I'm like "Well you need to let me use your phone then so that I can call my parents and have them figure things out with my bank in America." He was like "Oh of course" and took me back to some office. He asks me what part of America I'm from and then says he's moving to North Carolina soon. I said that was cool and that my friend was from North Carolina so he asks which one and while I'm freaking out trying to get a hold of my parents he goes and brings Hannah in to talk to her about North Carolina. How unprofessional. Also, side note. My parents didn't answer their phones, which I was pretty annoyed with at first. Until we left the bank and I realized I had called at like 5 in the morning. So then I have this whole scenario planned out in my head about how they're going to see these international missed called and then think that I died and then have crying fits. Want to know what really happened? The call came in as restricted so they just ignored it and cared none at all for the safety of my life. Sad, I know. Anyways, I left a message on my dads phone. Hannah finished up talking to bank man about whether or not North Carolina had capital punishment (who even asks that when their moving somewhere new? maybe he's the one that stole my card...) and we head of to Westminster.

By the time we got to Westminster, I only had time to do the "Highlight" audio tour, because I'm on dinner crew so I had to be back early to help set up. Although I wish I could have spent more time there, the highlight tour was pretty cool. There are so many awesome people buried there. I got to see where Queen Elizabeth I was buried and where Mary Queen of Scots was buried. Also Charles Dickens, John Dryden, Issac Newton, and everyone else cool that is buried in the Poet's Corner. The building is just beautiful and I thoroughly enjoyed it.

After dinner we had this guy come talk to us about World War II and the Blitz. He lived in London during it so it was really cool to hear him speak about it, especially since World War II is one of my favorite historical subjects. I'm not going to lie though, I did fall asleep for a couple of minutes...I feel bad about that, but it was dark and warm and I was tired.

I can't believe my time here is almost over...my parents will be here soon, finals are on Monday and then before you know it, I'm back in Provo. Where did all the time go?

Saturday, June 4, 2011

short shorts and mini skirts...

...that's all you would have seen if you'd been in London the past couple of days. It has been so stinking hot here, it's unbelievable. It was like being in California in the middle of the summer, except that it's suppose to be cold and rainy here not super deathly hot. It's actually pretty tolerable until you get in the tube station and then you just want to die.

Anyways. I'm sure you would rather here about some cool adventures rather than the weather, so here you go. Yesterday started out...oh man I don't even remember what we did...ummmm...oh yeah. Ok so we got up and headed to Wimbledon. Tara's dad is the men's tennis coach at BYU and he played in Wimbledon and made it to the final four. So he's basically really cool. But anyways Tara wanted to go out there and she knew the cool places and I figured it would be something sweet to do with my life. So Amy, Hannah, Scott, Tara, Corey and I headed off to Wimbledon. It's actually not that far away, the tube will take you right there. We had to walk a little to get to the fields but whats new. Unfortunately, once we got there, we discovered that you had to pay to see the fields, which was disappointing. But seeing the field just wasn't worth 9 pounds. See it from the outside was cool enough though. And we got strawberries and cream, which Wimbledon is famous for, and they were pretty delicious. After we were finished up at the fields, we walked to the actual village. It was a pretty cute village and Tara took us to this pretty awesome Indian restaurant. So it was a good time overall.

After Wimbledon, oh wait. Actually before Wimbledon, we went to the British Library. This was also pretty cool but not something we felt we needed to spend an extensive amount of time at. Most of the library you can't get into unless you have a library card (which I'm seriously considering going back to get...). But there is a room that has all the really cool stuff like the Magna Carta, the Gutenberg Bible and Codex Sinaiticus. They also have a bunch of authors journals/letters/writings which was freaking awesome, though maybe that's because I'm a nerdy English major (even though sometimes you can't tell from the crappy writing of this blog). They also had hand written lyrics from the Beatles which was sweet.

Ok so now after Wimbledon. Tara, Kaylee, Corey, Scott, Jessica and Emily S. and I all went to Wicked. It was so freaking awesome!!!! I know I've already seen it. Twice. But I didn't have to pay to see Le Mis, so I decided it was ok if I used that money to see Wicked and I'm so glad I did. Elpheba was the most amazing thing ever. I can't even explain how amazing. Everyone else was really good too but Elpheba blew me away. That musical seriously never will not be amazing to me. I loved it!

So today we had really good intentions but not really good success. We had plans to go to the British Museum this morning but as I was getting cash at the ATM, which I don't even do that often so of course this would happen to me, the stupid machine eats my card. And on top of that the stupid bank can't get it out, they have to call a mechanic and I don't want to wait around all day waiting for it, so I have to go back and get it on Monday. I'm kind of freaking out about this, but there really isn't anything I can do about it. They weren't even nice either. No apologies or anything. So annoying. By the time all of that went down, we weren't going to make it to the British Museum because we had made plans to go to Camden Market at noon. In hindsight, I'm not sure why we wouldn't allow ourselves to replan, because we weren't meeting up with anyone or anything, but whatever. So we headed to Camden.

Camden Market is kind of confusing at first. It looks like a crappy street market when you first get off the tube, which is why I didn't stay very long the first time we went there like the first week we were here. But if you keep on walking past all the crappy street people, you get to the real market which is legit. I might even say that it was as cool as Portobello Market. We didn't even make a dent in seeing all of it and we were there for 2 hours but it was great, I loved it. I wish we had markets like that in the States. Or actually, more specifically, where I live. That would make all of my wildest dreams come true. I'm sure somewhere in the US, there are cool markets and I've actually been to some pretty cool ones, but none of them compare to the markets out here. They are freaking awesome.

After Camden, we came home for all of like 20 minutes before Amy, Tara and I headed out to John Keats house. There was a little festival there and Tara is a giant Keats fan. Tara had put our name on the list for the free concert/poetry reading. Except that when we got there, which was three different tube lines away, we discovered she wasn't actually paying close enough attention the day of each event and the thing we were signed up for isn't until tomorrow. Great news right? Uh no. So tonight there's was a free poetry reading but we had to wait an hour and we didn't actually know if we would get in. Luckily (for Tara mostly because Amy and I might have killed her otherwise) we were able to get in. I've never been to a legit poetry reading but it was cool. I'm not actually the biggest poetry fan on planet Earth, but the poets were reading their own work and giving background on it and a lot of the poems had references to London so that was sweet. We were disappointed that no one actually read any Keats poetry but we did get to walk around the house for free during the little 10 minutes break between poets and normally you have to pay. That was pretty awesome. So yeah it was cool. Interesting experience for sure.

After Keats, we went for gelato in Trafalgar Square because that's the best way to end a night. =]

Thursday, June 2, 2011

independance day

Today was a day all alone. It was pretty nice, I'm not going to lie. I love my friends out here, but sometimes it's just nice to be away from people, especially when I've been with the same 50 people 24/7 for the past month and a half. I started out my day with a journey to Hever Castle. Hever Castle is the childhood home of the Boleyn's. Anne Boleyn was Henry VIII's second wife and the cause of his split from the Catholic Church. I am a huge Tudor era fan. I may have already explained that in a previous post, but literally, I love studying the time period when the Tudors ruled England. It's fascinating. So naturally I was pretty pumped to go to Hever. It started with a train ride, which at this point isn't all that exciting anymore. Once I got to the station, I had no idea where I was going. I knew the castle was about a mile walk from the station but I didn't know what direction and there were no maps at the station because it was such a small station. Luckily I ran into a lady that basically lives next door to the station and she directed me where to go, which actually turned out great because she knew a faster and prettier way to get there rather than just following the road. She told me how to get to the footpath that would cut across and take me right to the castle. It was a great little walk. I love all the footpaths here in London because they are so scenic. There were a bunch of rabbits and this cool tree arch. And there was a field of sheep so I got to see some more of my future pet!

When I got to the castle, the entrance is on the outskirts of the land, and there is a lot of land. So when you walk in there is a hill and once you get over the hill, the castle is right there and it's great. The castle wasn't open yet when I got there but the gardens were so I walked around those. The garden isn't just a little plot of land full of flowers, its like acres of trees and flowers. So beautiful. It's kind of split up into multiple areas. There's an Italian garden, a rose garden, a rhododendron garden, a Tudor garden etc. There is also a giant pond. Actually I don't know if you can even call it a pond, it's more of a lake. Unfortunately, they had the Tudor garden closed off and the lake was so big I didn't have time to walk all the way around it. It was so pretty and peaceful though, I loved it.

When the castle opened, I went over there and walked through. It's 3 or 4 stories high, I can't remember for sure how many flights we ended up going up. It was fabulous and I had a great time there. The only thing I was a little disappointed in was the fact that I was expecting it to be pretty similar to when Anne lived there except that quite a few people owned it after Anne, which I knew before I went, I was just silly and not thinking that the building and the furnishings would change with new ownership. So it was really cool but I was crazy and thought it would be a little different than what it ended up being like. There were all these crazy old ladies wandering around at the same time as me though. They were gossiping about other crazy old ladies the whole time and that was pretty entertaining.

So even though it was absolutely fabulous, there was one big thing I didn't like about Hever. Because it is under private ownership instead of the National Trust like a lot of the other historic places around here, it was super touristy. It just felt like a big giant tourist attraction instead of an historic place. Even though other places we've been to are super touristy, they don't necessarily have the touristy feel. Hever had tourist written on its non-exsistant forehead. The castle had a bunch of random items of furniture stuck in random places, just to show it off. The gift shop was not only overpriced but most of the stuff in there didn't even have items relating to Hever. And they had turned part of the garden into this water maze thing for little kids so there were a million little kids running around with their parents. But I guess things can't be perfect all the time.

After I was finished with Hever and back in London, I went to Harrods. Harrods is a ginormous, extremely expensive department store. Not only could I not afford to buy anything, I couldn't afford to look at anything. There was an umbrella for 40 pounds or roughly 70 dollars. And a purse for almost a thousand pounds. So freaking ridiculous. Also, its huge and super confusing to navigate your way around. Even with my map. After about 30 minutes I decided Harrods was one of my least favorite places and I was out of there. Maybe I'm just not a real girl, but wandering around a store where I can buy absolutely nothing just isn't that much fun to me. But hey, now I can say I've been there.

Now I'm just hanging out back in the Centre. No one else is back from their trip to Brighton so we'll see what the night has in store for me...

Wednesday, June 1, 2011

a new love for shakespeare

After class today, Amy, Tara, Hannah and I went to see "Much Ado About Nothing" at the Globe Theatre. Yes, this is the third play I've seen there. But here the thing, the other two times, I didn't have to pay for the tickets and we had seats. I wanted to experience the real deal being a groundling and it only cost me 5 pounds. And it was well worth the 5 pounds. It was probably my favorite Shakespeare play. So dang good. It is one of Shakespeare's comedies and funny it was. The actors were amazing as well. One of the main characters played Geoffrey in the Fresh Prince of Bel-Air and another one of the main characters played Wallis in The King's Speech. So basically there were some amazing people in it. And it they made it even better because they interacted with the audience. This is another one of those things where I really can't explain how great it is but it was great.

Then we came back to the Centre for dinner and just kind of hung out here the rest of the night. There isn't a lot to do in London at night because everything closes. Unless you want to get food or go to a play or something. But that's ok because I was able to plan my days while we have the travel weekend. And it's going to be a great three days. You should anticipate the blog posts about them...

an ultimate london experince

Yesterday was fabulous. That's all you really need to know.

Ok fine, I'll give you more than that. First of all, I got to sleep in, if you can really count 8 as sleeping in. We had plans to go to Windsor Castle at 11 and there wasn't a whole lot I could do before then, so I just let myself relax a little bit that morning, which was great. So then at 11ish, like half our group left for Windsor Castle. I didn't know a lot about Windsor, but I didn't have any other plans and the program was willing to reimburse us traveling fees and entrance fees so I figured why not go. One of the best decisions I'd say. We had to take the train there, but it wasn't a very long ride, about 30 min. When we walked out of the train station, the castle was literally right there in front of us. And it was giant. And beautiful. I fell in love immediately. First of all, this is a legit castle. Remember that post a while ago about castles here not really being castles? This was a real castle. In case you weren't already aware, the Queen still takes residence in Windsor. I believe it is actually one of her favorite places, which is easy to see why. Hopefully you'll be able to see how amazing it is from my little blog post. So the castle is giant sized. I think it's bigger than Buckingham. And it's spread out on a vast amount of land. So basically I was in awe the moment I saw it. To add to the greatness of this experience, it was a beautiful day outside and the whole town is super cute and the land is super pretty.

Ok, so I suppose I'll actually explain to you what the inside is like to. As I said earlier, the castle is spread out, it's not just one building. So we walked into the square type thing and the first building we visited was St. George's Chapel. I really liked this chapel but I think that was partially due to the face that the audio guide was pretty spectacular. It gave cool information and it also reminded us that the chapel is an actual place of worship, which I don't feel like many of the other chapels have emphasized. They've all just been more of tourist attractions, which is kind of sad. It was a really pretty chapel, but I also felt like it was a little less ornate than some of the others we've seen and I prefer the simplicity. Once we got to the choir area of the chapel, we were looking around and then BAM. There's King Henry VIII's grave. In my head I was screaming "ARE YOU KIDDING ME!?!" all excitedly. How freaking cool is that? And Jane Seymour, his 3rd wife was buried in the same place, along with one of Anne Boleyn's babies. It was amazing and I was so mad we couldn't take pictures. So we keep on walking along and there are a bunch of royal people graves there. It was so cool. But I was most excited about King Henry VIII. Even though he was one bad dude, he is so fascinating. It was pretty funny though because we were in the gift shop later and there was this English lady talking about the grave and she was like "I was so happy to walk over Henry VIII's grave!" But us American freaks walked around is as though it was some sort of sacred ground or something.

After checking out the chapel, we went to the State Apartments. First we walked through this room that had Queen Mary's Dolls' House in it. This is an actual doll house, except its more of a doll Buckingham Palace rather than a house. It was a present and it's the most ridiculous thing I've ever seen. First of all it has plumbing and toilet paper. Second the plates are made of real silver. And third the paintings are identical replicas by real artists. I wish my Barbie's had a house like that...After we went through the room with the Dolls' House we entered the State Apartments. It was amazing but I'm just going to go through some highlights. They had the bullet that killed Lord Admiral Nelson, who is one of Britain's great hero's. Pretty sweet. You know what. I just can't even really explain much more than that. I walked the rooms where the Queen lives. That's about all the description you need because basically that is freaking cool. One of my favorite places for sure.

Once we got back from the castle, we hurried and ate some dinner and ran to Her Majesty's Theater where we lucked out and got cheap tickets to Phantom of the Opera. IT WAS SO AMAZING!! Literally, all of my wildest dreams came true watching it. I loved it more than I can express. Except the chandelier dropping was kind of a disappointment. It wasn't spectacular at all and that was one of the parts I was most excited about. Very sad but the rest of it was amazing so I'll just pretend they had a spectacular chandelier dropping.

Basically it was one of the best days of my life. As is almost every other day I've been here in London...